Wealthy, sensitive Grant marries Francis, who is everything he isn't--tenacious, scheming, and pathologically possessive. Lombard, a beautiful, lonely widow, takes a summer cottage near Grant's estate and he falls desperately in love with her. A short time later he asks Francis for a
divorce but she adamantly refuses. Francis fights viciously to hold on to her man, not out of love, but for his money. Grant keeps pushing her for the divorce and she finally seems to relent, telling him that she will get the decree in Paris, but then she goes to the City of Light with Grant's
super-wealthy parents, Coburn and Walker, doing everything in her power to ingratiate herself with the old folks in an attempt to obtain the family millions. In Paris, Francis stalls endlessly, putting Grant off through one ruse after another. He and Lombard begin to believe that it's a no-win
situation. When Francis finally does return to New York, Grant and Lombard confront her. Francis' true nature emerges in a highly charged scene in which, snarling like a trapped tigress, she vows to sue Lombard for alienation of affection if Grant files for divorce. After leaving Francis' hotel
suite, Grant and Lombard feel hopeless, believing that they will never find happiness together. Grant then catches pneumonia and is at death's door. Physician Moscovich, in a stirring scene, tells the family that only the one Grant truly loves should be at his bedside to pull him through. Lombard
is prevented from seeing Grant by Francis, who stands now like some hideous sentinel before the gates of death, spitting out her hatred for Lombard, even admitting that she is clinging to the dying man so she can inherit his fortune. Her remarks are overheard by Coburn and Walker and the old man
quickly gets rid of vixen Francis and sends Lombard to her man. Grant recovers and Francis is finally out of the way, forced to agree to the divorce. Lombard and Grant will now find happiness together.
IN NAME ONLY is really a four-handkerchief film, a tepid potboiler that climbs out of sudsy bathos only through the sheer strength of its leads. Grant is charming and Lombard appealing but lacking her usual zesty flair. Francis discards her sophistication for once and delivers a powerful
performance of a woman no one could love. Coburn does a solid job and many of the supporting players deliver strong performances, including Baxter, who normally played iceberg gangsters. Here he renders a hilarious bit as a drunken clerk on Christmas Eve. This was the screen debut of child star
Peggy Ann Garner and she appears somewhat awkward, though she is fetching in her small part. Vinson also scores as an acidic gossip whose wagging tongue is heard by some youths who become frightened at the scandal she drools, another priceless little scene handled well by the careful Cromwell, a
director who could make much more out of mediocre material through well-crafted scenes. He does so over and over in this film, even though its story smacks of CRAIG'S WIFE and DODSWORTH.
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